A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s journey from a god-fearing Muslim boy to a proud, queer drag queen
My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, confident and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to.
Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jeremy Kyle. And that was just the beginning.
This is the story of how I got from there to here. You’ll read about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity. You’ll read about my scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work). You’ll read about how I discovered the transformative powers of drag while at Cambridge university; about how I suffered a massive breakdown after I left, and very nearly lost my mind; and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way.
Most of all, this is a book about my mother, my first love, the most beautiful and glamorous woman I’ve ever known, the unknowing inspiration for my career as a drag queen – and a fierce, vociferous critic of anything that transgresses normal gender boundaries. It’s about how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging.
Reviews of Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen
- ‘This book is as rare, fabulous and beautiful as the creature it is named for. A masterpiece of psychology, a major study of Islam and a definitive study of drag, it made me cry, it made me rage and it made me hoot. Full of anger, insight and philosophy, along with some cracking great gags, this is a magnificent and essential document of the twenty-first century. It moved my heart and soul’ Russell T Davies
- ‘Heartbreakingly good’ Simon Amstell
- ‘Astonishingly brave and engaging, Unicorn shows us a side of life seldom explored’ Joanna Lumley
- ‘An extraordinarily generous work of compassion, understanding, hope and humour. Unicorn is a true gift to all readers – and especially to any hidden unicorns ready and waiting to embrace their magic’ CN Lester
- ‘Tender and hilarious in equal parts, this is a memoir like no other. A beautiful, honest account of what it is like to grow up between multiple expectations, and an uplifting reminder that it is possible to find happiness by being yourself. I was gripped at every page’ Angela Saini, author of Superior